The best way to prevent heart failure is to:
Lower your risk of getting heart disease by making lifestyle changes.
Control certain health problems, such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
To reduce your risk:
Don’t smoke. If you smoke, quit. Smoking greatly increases your risk for heart disease. Avoid secondhand smoke too.
Lower your cholesterol. If you have high cholesterol, follow your doctor’s advice for lowering it. Eating a heart-healthy diet-such as the TLC diet -exercising, and quitting smoking will help keep your cholesterol low.
Control your blood pressure. High blood pressure raises your risk of getting heart disease and heart failure. Exercising, limiting alcohol, and controlling stress will help keep your blood pressure in a healthy range.
Get regular exercise. Exercise will help control your weight, blood pressure, and stress. Controlling these things will help keep your heart healthy. Try to do activities that raise your heart rate. Aim for at least 2½ hours of moderate exercise a week. One way to do this is to be active at least 10 minutes 3 times a day, 5 days a week. Talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program.
Control diabetes. Take your medicines as directed, and work with your doctor to make a diet and exercise plan to control diabetes.
Limit alcohol. If you drink alcohol, drink moderately. This means no more than 2 drinks a day for men and 1 drink a day for women. Heavy consumption of alcohol can lead to heart failure.
Getting at least seven hours of sleep a night further lowers the risk of CVD (cardiovascular disease) events—on top of the lowered risk from following four traditional healthy habits.
The Monitoring Project on Risk Factors for Chronic Diseases (MORGEN) study looked at how adequate sleep might enhance the benefits of being physically active, eating a healthy diet, not smoking, and drinking alcohol in moderation. (published in the July 2, 2013 issue of the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology).
In the current study, researchers analyzed data from 6672 men and 7967 women who participated in MORGEN, a prospective study of people aged 20-65 years living in the Netherlands who replied to a lifestyle questionnaire in 1994 to 1997.
Researchers defined five healthy lifestyle habits, as follows:
Spending 3.5 or more hours a week cycling or doing other sports at a moderate to vigorous intensity.
A modified Mediterranean diet score of five or higher.
One drink of alcohol or more a month.
Sleeping seven hours or more a night.
The population was fairly healthy: 52% were sufficiently active, 37% consumed a healthy diet, 91% of men and 78% of women consumed alcohol, 65% were nonsmokers, and 80% of men and 86% of women obtained sufficient sleep.
During the 10-14 year follow-up, there were 607 composite CVD events: 129 fatal CVD events, 367 nonfatal heart attacks, and 111 nonfatal strokes.
Each factor on its own reduced the risk of CVD. The reduced risk for composite CVD ranged from 12% lower for following a healthy diet to 43% lower for not smoking; the risk of fatal CVD ranged from 26% lower for being physically active to 43% lower for not smoking. Getting a good night’s sleep reduced the risk of composite CVD by 22% (HR 0.78) and fatal CVD by 43% (HR 0.57) compared with having insufficient sleep.
Not surprisingly, compared to people with fewer than two traditional healthy lifestyle habits, those who adhered to four traditional habits had a 57% lower risk of composite CVD and 67% lower risk of fatal CVD. People who added sufficient sleep to these four habits had an even greater benefit: a 65% lower risk of a composite CVD event and an 83% lower risk of fatal CVD.
So, Get healthy and catch a good nights sleep!